Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cooked a couple of meals over my days off that turned out ok. High spot was probably the M&S £10 Meal Deal offer. A main course, side dish, dessert and a bottle of wine for a tenner. If you price it up you are effectively getting the wine free, so saving about £7. They have a new line in the 'Cook' range of Cod with a crumb topping and a sundried tomato sauce, which was very good. The duck breasts with plum sauce has lovely breasts [ouch!] but the sayce is waaaaaay to sweet and spoind the duck if spread over it. I served it with three times cooked chips and some green stuff [for visual effect]. M&S are doing a range of desserts that are shaped like a half base-ball [ie half a globe] with a sort of twirl effect radiating out from the top. There are three varieties, a white one, a red one and a pale choclate colored one and they retail at £4. There are two servings in each box, only one of which is visinle through the perspex 'window' of the box. I've bought them twice and on both occasions the soft sugar covering of the unseen pudding has been broken and in a mess when I opened the box; not something you want at £4 a tick. I checked all the boxes in the store the following day and they were all like it, so warning - don't buy 'em for your special Christmas meal unless you intend to serve it in a bucket. Quick shop story. A few months ago I was sorry to hear that George, one of our customers had been diagnosed with cancer and been given 'a year to live. I don't know him well - he's a footie supporter and chats with some of the other staff about the game - but still I was sad when Brenda [another customer] came up to me and said, "George died over the Weekend". I comiserated and said I would let my workmates who knew him better know. This I did over the next few days as I saw them. "Wow!", said Bruan, the young lad whp probably knew him best, "I knew he was sick but that was fast!" It therefor came as something of a shock when filling the milk shelves by the front door, I looked up to see George walking through it to but his paper as normal. Mouth open I stared at him [from a distance] and later, I pulled Brenda up when she too, came in. "Brenda - george is still alive - He was in this morning! Well to cut a story short, of course it had been a different customer who I'd no idea was called George who had died, and luckily I was able to put my workmates right before any damage was done, but it was close - one had bought a condolence card but just hadn't got round to sending it!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Today while stacking the shelves with the chilled items from the days delivery I was given cause to muse upon the marketing strategies employed by the various producers of the provender we eat. The particular item that caused me to step back for a moment was a brand of sausages [currently on special offer, £2 for 6] that go under the name of 'Porky Whites'. Now four or five years ago a brand appeared on the supermarket shelves under the name 'The Black Farmer's Sausage', the packaging of which showed a sillhouetted figure [wearing a stetson if I recall correctly] standing against an orange-red sunset. The inuendo of the branding would have been obvious to all but the most nieve of individuals and no doubt caused some smiles [and indeed sales] as people encountered the make for the first time. Now I may be absolutely on the wrong track here, but I can't help but think that the subsequent later appearence of the 'Porky Whites' variety is not a coincidental to the earlier brand. 'Porky whites' sausages also feature a photograph on their packaging, but this time we see a 1930's style olde worlde picture, conjouring an image of a time when all was right with the world [as if!] and all butchers were known by the sobriquet 'Porky'. Again I may be on the wrong end of the bat here, but I can't help feeling that if the house-wives choice between the two would be 'The Black Farmers' [and why not, they're bigger] then Nigel Farrage's would be 'Porky Whites'. This all could be just wild speculation on my part; there might be no connection between the two brandings whatsoever and indeed the inuendo of the first example to appear may be all just my [questionable] imagination working in overdrive. What do you think?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Last night I did one of the things I like best; I went down to M&S and bought some stuff, took it home and did a three course meal for E. [my wife] and me to sit down at like we have our own restaurant at home. Seriously. We have really good quality plates and cutlery, crystal glasses and the full works in order to re-create the 'feel' of eating out - but instead you're at home. This a) saves you a shed load of money and b) means you can get as pissed as a stick without i) making a tit of yourself at a posh reataurant and ii) having to spring for a taxi home [unless you're the kind who screw's convention and just drives home anyway in which case ignore ii; hey - I'm not in the judgement game]. I bought M&S 'Gravad-Lax' which is drop dead gorgeous and has a dill-sauce sachet included that avoids that bitter after-taste you get with some brands. The downside is there is only enough actual salmon for about one decent mouthfull per person and for this you have to bung £6 - so it's actually gram for gram probably dearer than beluga caviar but there you have it, who said being a gourmand was cheap! [Quick diversion; who can tell me the difference between a gourmand, a gourmet and a gastronome because there is one. I'll leave this one hanging as a hook to draw you back in here again, and reveal all at some later point when I have actually remembered [or re-checked] what the answer is.] Anyway next we had a roast pheasant [nearly typed roast peasant there - I'll save that one for closer to Christmas] with stuffing, roast pots and a little trio of veg. M&S do this small bag of trimmed carrots, broccoli and mangĂ©-tout that you just bung into a microwave bag and all and two minutes later you've got all your veg done. It's reaaly nice veg, crisp and well flavoured and it comes in at 80 pence a bag which is enough for two. [Quick lesson; for those who do those 'great big fuck-off roasts' you must be mad. A roast should be small enough to fit in as part of a three course meal and so simple to get onto the plate you could do it while simultaneously watching 'Debbie does Dallas' if you wanted to. Screw all of that standing around over boiling pans!] Anyway, the whole pheasant we bought from Marks was good flavoured, but I think it would have benefitted from a bit more 'hanging' - like for about a year! It was so tough I had to ask E. to pre-chew mine [not really] and that was the best bits. The tougher parts [legs and thighs] are currenly forming the major part of a PhD thesis on 'natures toughest matereals' which I will bring to you in due course. Actually I gave a piece to one of our cats who this morning is still chewing away like he's John Travolta in 'Grease' - I'll probably have to pay to have it surgically removed at some point in the near future! But aside from that the meal was actually ok. Dessert was a Bon Mamma rum-baba, as near to the real french thing as you are ever going to get [served with a Sainsbury's own brand pudding wine which was actually ok ay £4 a half bottle - much better [and more of it] than the M&S sweet muscat at £3 for which you only get 2 glasses. Cheese would have been an M&S 'Cornish Cruncher' which is out in front the best cheddar you can get anywhere, including the 'speciality' high end brands, but alas I was stuffed to the gills by this point and it was all I could do to retire to the front room and finnish of the three bottles of wine we had opened. Why do I do it? [Wine info; 'The Ridge' Sauvingnon Blanc 2012, 6/10 Tesco's; A Rioja of no note and an Argentinian Malbec that was drier than the Rioja. Don't worry - when I find something worth directing you to, you will get all the details.]

Saturday, 8 November 2014

a new beginning.

For whatever reason, my blog site seems to be messing around with me today and not letting me 'compose in the normal manner. Ok - I can deal with it; I'm a big boy now. Anyhows - I've decided to change the way this blog is going to work. From now on, rather than being about the crap I think, it's going to be about the crap I experience. So let me tell you a bit about myself and the sort of stuff I do. I work in a seven-eleven store as a 'supervisor' of sorts. I've done some other stuff in my life [but thats no matter and It's really just my way of letting you know 'I'm Better than thet - honestly!' - but of course I'm really not]. My chief loves in my life [after me that is] are my wife and family, the occasional bouts of travel I get up to and the more regular meals that I either cook at home [I specialise in getting stuff from the supermarkets etc and making it better] or out in restaurants. From now on I'm going to tell you about this stuff. Not probably daily, but hopefully often enough to make things fun and interesting for you to want to keep up with. There'll be lots of spelling errors and gramatical bollocks, and shed loads of swearing and politically incorrect stupp. That's just the way I am. So please, drop in every once in a while and say hello. Hell - it might be fun ;)

Friday, 12 April 2013

So Mrs Thatcher is dead. One of the things she is being credited with acheiving is 'breaking the Unions' (ie divesting them of the power they had held to influence how working people were paid and the conditions of their work).  This may indeed be true - but is this the good thing it is presented as being. Most of us seem to forget that without the Unions we would for the most part still be labouring in squalid conditions for a pitance and at the complete mercy of employers who could use or discard us as their wont dictated. The rights, such as they are, that we now enjoy were not freely given; they were fought tooth and nail for by the very Unions whose demise we celebrate. There is a greater division now between rich and poor than there has been for the last thirty years and, we are told, it is getting greater by the day. I do not believe that this can be conceived as being good for a country. It seems to me that a state where the wealth of a nation is held by fewer and fewer individuals rather than being enjoyed by the people as a whole cannot be a healthy one. Surely under such conditions discontent and agitation can be the only end result. Yes the Unions did things wrong. Yes they got out of hand. But they also did things right, they also had their place in the improvement of the common mans lot and lets remember that had their power not been so badly damaged by their confrontation with Mrs Thatcher, it is possible that the increasing gap between rich and poor, haves and have nots, that we spoke of above might not be increasing quite so fast.

Another of her acheivements I have heard touted in the last day or two is that she made us all realise that any of us could make it; it didn't matter who we were we all had a chance of getting to the top. Lets look at that. There are something over one hundred ministers of state in the UK, be they of the Government or of the Opposition. Of this group currently fourteen were educated in state schools, the rest in the public school system. The higher up the pecking order of these fee paying schools you go, the more you will see their ex-pupils represented. In a recent survey of the top 2000 influential people in the UK, 80% were found to have been to public schools and the top universities. Radio 4 aired a biographical program on the current health minister Jeremy Hunt where another MP who had been a chum of his at Chaterhouse, a prestigious UK public school remenisced "as we left on the final day the last thing Jeremy said to me was 'See you at Westminster'."  The moral of these stories if there is one, is, if you are educated in the comprehensive (state) school education system in the UK then you might make it to the top, you might........but the chances are against it.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Last week the Sun (I think - one of the crap redtops at least) ran a side headline on the front page 'Adele [a singer of medium talent] earns £41,000 a day. Below this was a follow up line 'Here's how she would look holding the money!' together with a picture of the singers head grafted on to a body holding a double armfull of bundles of banknotes. What I ask. was the purpose of this crude story. Were we supposed to feel jealous that in these days when we at the bottom end of the labour market earn less than half in a year what this girl earns a day, someone could be doing so well. Were we supposed to applaud her in her good fortune and say she deserved every penny. Were we supposed to take to the streets and put every rich money grabbing bastard up against the wall. What, I ask again was the point of this story. The incident was not of course isolated. Last year we learned of Tara Ecclestone (the playgirl daughter of a motor racing magnate) spending £1 million on a marble bath with gold taps ("Well - I spend alot of time in the bath was her rather plaintiff excuse for this ludicrous extravigence) but again I failed to see what we were supossed to make of the matter. Do the papers really want to see the downtrodden masses rise up and take vengence ala russian revolution style on these bloated plutocrats - is that what it's all about. They spoon feed the masses crap about the lives of the celebrities thereby generating the opium of publicity that fuels these ridiculous fools - and then publish these stories with a sort of slimy "Look at what they've got that you haven't" feel to them. Get real Papers - stop playing silly games. Get real people - stop supporting papers that provide no more than brain numbing pap at the expense of the news you need to know.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I've just made a sandwich for my lunch at work. Nothing to get exited about there you say, but wait on! I threw the first three pieces of bread I took from the bag away - they were so flimsy as a result of all of the fibre and nutritional goodness being washed out of them, so full of air pockets and holes, that they fell apart in my hand on the way from the wrapper to the work-surface. Luckily I managed to get the next two onto a flat surface before they disintigrated and then glue them into slome semblance of stable rigidity with a thick layer of butter. The cheese my wife had bought (from Poundland so I shouldn't complain too much), on cutting felt decidedly rubbery for what was desribed as extea mature cheddar. I tasted a bit and wished I hadn't. A more tasteless elastic mass I have never before put into my mouth exept as a child when I used to eat my pencil-top erasers in class out of boredom with the lessons (another subject I must adress at some point!). No, I tell a lie - the erasers tasted better. This 'thing' was so far removed from anything recognisable as cheese that it could have stolen first prize in an 'animal, vegetable, mineral' competition any day of the week. I progressed to the tomato - not a good colour, not a nice red that would fire the loins of any self-respecting bull eyeing the jacket of a tourist in a west-country feild, but a wishy orange streaked yellow red, a neither here nor there red, a not really red at all red. I sliced of a ...slice. No seeds and juice - just that mushy bit that normally sits in the central section. Slice again - more mush. Slice mush. Slice mush. I breathed a bit through my nose and turned the remnant through 90 degrees. Slice mush. Eye twitch. Slice seeds! Slice seeds! At last I had hit pay-dirt and I wasn't giving up now untill the mine ran dry. Four slices in - just enough to barely cover the cheese lying like a pvc cover on my air pocket peppered bread (a culinary version of the memory foam matress) - the mine ran dry. Still it was enough. More out of a sense of cynical prescience than out of any genuine expectation I popped the last piece of tomato into my mouth. Yep - tasteless as shit. A mushy-pap pulpy mess of tastless pith and skin. Not the remotest resmblance to what a real tomato tastes like; not even in the same universe as the tomato's of my youth, those dark red sweet and juicy globes that were heaven to eat all alone with a squirt of salad cream or a shot of salt and viniger.

Somehow I had to inject some flavor into this thing that was to serve as my main sustenence in the eight hours ahead. To date the entire list of the ingedients of my sandwhich had been without exeption as devoid of anything even approaching flavor as the packaging they were wrapped in. The sweet lamb of flavor had been mercilessly hung on the foul gibbet of shelf-life, drawn on the bloody alter of processing, quatered on the smug decking of healthy eating. Anything remotely nutrtious or flavorsome had been ruthlessly extracted, mercilessly driven out, spirited away on the chariot of modern 'food science'. "The bastards! The complete bastards!", I said to myself. Little wonder that more children proportionately are being admitted to hospital with malnutrition now than were done so fifty years ago. The processing of food and the modification (genetic or otherwise) carried out to increase shelf life and thus profitability have slaughtered the nutritional value of our food. And the food industry is proud, I say proud of this! Adverts like 'Why sell them meat when you can sell them water' abound in the meat trade journals. Bakers joke that the current aim is to make as much water stand up on it's own as possible. Nutritional value is washed out of grain and used to feed pigs and we are fed the remaining husk ground up for bread and cereals. Long-life fruit is sold on the supermarket shelves as if to our advantage. 'Ripen at home peaches' that simply never ripen at all but wither dirctly from the hard unripened state they are sold in. Meat with no fat, cereal with no salt, food with no taste.

I looked disconsolately into the cuboard. Taste, taste, how to get it. Ahh - there we have it. Mustard and pickle. A good teaspoon of each and things were looking better. Against all the rules of hygene I licked the spoon clean and the resulting blast of umami made my eyes roll back in my head. There - thats what I want. I don't want to live for ever. I don't want to look like a twenty year old at eighty. I don't even mind paying a bit more for my food. Just please, please, please stop fucking around with my grub. I want to tast my food!